It’s finally happened. Last week will definitely not make it onto our highlights reel when we get back home. After all of the warnings from fellow travellers and locals alike, we have been well and truly robbed, scammed and fleeced, yet not once and not twice but three times…
The Ride By Robbers
The one we most warned about was the first to happen. There I am with our bag in hand, inside I have my phone, our credit card and 180 US dollars. Standing to cross the road in the Phnom Penh traffic at rush hour we are on our way out for a day trip to see the royal palace and soak in some much-needed beauty after two days being wrapped up in stories of Cambodia’s unfortunate past under the Khmer Rouge during 1985 to 1989…
Approaching at a slow pace, you don’t feel in danger until the last second when you feel the right strap on your bag slashed and the remainder of the bag pulled from your grasp as you watch your bag, your belongings and your money fly away from you at thrice the speed.
My phone I won’t get back, the credit card can be canceled but we are now left with nothing to withdraw cash out, without hefty fees and unfortunately the 180 dollars is well and truly gone. The however bag luckily is replaceable.
Not to do things in half’s our trauma doesn’t stop there,
The Credit Card Scam
Phoning up to cancel our credit card should have been a slight relief, until the Wendy, the Scottish woman from the hotline, explains there has been an issue, she pauses and goes silent, scrambling around we use one of our last remaining belongings, our laptop, to check our balance. Our hearts sink as we realise that ‘we’ have apparently spent £1415. The lady gets back on to the phone and tells us that we spent our money shortly after paying for our recent hotel stay, when the next day the card had been used for 4 transactions. After 25 minutes lambasting the card company for allowing this to happen and swearing blind we weren’t foolish enough to spend this amount of money by mistake, Wendy finally explained how we were not the first to have this happen abroad. Apparently there are shady hotels around areas of South East Asia where travellers have had their card details copied and shortly after leaving the area, their cards have been maxed out and the money to be never seen again. We are now on this list.
The Luggage Fleecers
To finish our day off, which was now one centred around our new hotel bed, swearing and cursing at the people who did this to us, we had one more nasty surprise to smack us straight in the face. As we had just arrived the night before into Phnom Penh, we had travelled the previous day for 5-6 hours by coach and being tired after our journey we had hit the sack immediately upon reaching our new bed. Trying to pass the time Melissa went to search the backpacks for her iPad. “It’s not here, are you sure you put it in the big bag?” “Yes look again.” This went on three or four times until all the contents were on the floor. Into my bag we go. We unzipped the bag and once again our hearts sank. Instead of my packing cubes neatly sitting in my bag, my clothes were folded on top of each other half in the cubes and half out of them, definitely not how I had left them. Straight away we knew what had occurred. Our bags had been rummaged through by someone during our coach ride, and in the dark the perpetrators had just refolded the clothes and zipped my bag back up. They obviously found Mel’s iPad in their search and after a few checks between all of our luggage they had also got away with; my PS Vita, 4 of our chargers, our e-reader and Mel’s make up bag. All to be sold on or enjoyed by someone else. We had heard of this but thought a 5-6 hour journey would not be an issue and failed to pack all of our expensive belongings in our hand luggage, only to compact our own misery.
The moral of the story: You think it will never happen to you, but it can, and it will if you don’t take care… Nonetheless, we are now trying to find our way home and with only the $85 we kept in the hotel room this morning, we are stranded on a shoestring…
Awful People Really Instigate Lawlessness
Fortunately Obscuring Opportunity Limits Stealing
Happy April the 1st everyone, fortunately we haven’t been a victim to all three of these common scams, but thought we would share some of the stories we have heard from other travellers since being out here. In reality the people we have met so far have been friendly, kind and genuinely a pleasure throughout all of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia and have added so much to our experience
Get in touch with any horror stories if you have actually been victim to some of South East Asia’s elite scam artists and we can add them to our tips page. Or answer our Poll below…